Great thread, really enjoying reading everyone's post and agree with most of them.
1. Coaching - Say what you want, and I know that I've harped on it enough. You can't let up 3+ goals a game like the Penguins have. We win games on talent alone. Now imagine if we had a Babcock back there? Instead of Zetterberg/Datsyuk it would be Crosby/Malkin. Have to sacrifice those extra 10-15 points they might get per year for sound "Team" defense. I have a feeling the Pens make the ECF this year and unfortunately it will save Bylsma's job.
I honestly believe that this is the biggest problem with our team, and it will cost this organization at least 1 cup sticking with Bylsma this long. Since the 2009 cup run, I do not believe we've had enough, the right pieces, were healthy enough going into the playoffs to win a cup. (Sometimes a combination of some). I feel we are close, borderline this year, definitely next year. This all depends on Bylsma not ruining the rookies development. I'm still shocked everytime Despres doesn't play, but Bennett, is now locked into a top 6 role. He deserves it, but the point is, they both do. Bylsma sticks with Engellands, Kennedys, Adams, way to long. These guys are borderline NHL players. It just disgusts me that fringe 30 year old players are getting QUALITY time over the rookies that are simply already better. This season was too short to fire Bylsma, I think it saved his job. Because this +3 goal crap a game wouldn't last the entire 82 games.
2. Defensive Stud / Crease Clearer - We've all brought up Scuderi/Gill enough. We had a guy like this in Michalek, and he didn't fit the system anymore. Martin is more of a puck possession/positional guy. We need that guy that is going to give us 20 minutes of solid defense on a consistent basis, hitting, blocking shots. Orpik has not been that guy. Of course you'd like this from all of your defenseman, but you need at least one to play against team's A1 stars, like Scuderi did on Ovechkin. I believe Despres is that guy, but he might not be fully matured yet. I honestly believe Letang - Despres should be this teams top pairing for a long time. I hope Shero/Bylsma don't screw it up. A guy like Despres can be a stud, for a fair cap hit price. You got get a guy like Jack Johnson, what's his cap hit going to be? If this team wants Jackson, package Pouliot/Maatta, Forward Prospect, 1st, and maybe Niskanen so they have a current roster guy. However don't trade Despres. I don't mind 'sacrificing' this year per-say to keep our youth. I believe it was Kovy27 that said trade Despres, we have a bunch of him in the minors. While I agree with his basic assumption, there's NO GUARANTEE any of Pouliot, Morrow, Harrington, Dumoulin will end up as good as a top pairing guy.
3. Bottom 6 Forward - This completely changed from top 6 to bottom six the moment Bennett took the 2nd line. He's going to have some rust for the entire year, maybe even a bad playoffs. However LEAVE THIS KID ON THE 2ND LINE AND DON'T TOUCH HIM. He's going to have Rookie nights. Don't demote him Bylsma. This team needs a new 4th line. Cooke - Sutter - Jeffrey. I'm okay with that as my 3rd going into the playoffs this year even though it's not that great. Kennedy needs to play on the 4th line. It might actually give the 4th line a kick, demoting him. I don't know why we sign guys like Glass for 1.1M, but let like guys like Talbot/Rupp walk for around 1.5-1.7m. That 500k is so worth it. I mean look at TK and his 2.0M WASTE OF MONEY. Rupp had some big goals for us, and decent amount for a 4th liner. That was a big 6'5" body we just have never replaced.
In summary, I think this team, since the cup has been moving towards "north-south" "gogogo fast and puck dump too much". Not replacing the Gills, Rupps, Malones, etc. Not all aspects of the playoffs speed up, some things slow down. We have nobody that can break a Holmstrom's back. We have nobody that's just going to punch someone in the face just because its the playoffs. What are we going to do when Boston stacks 5 around the crease with Chara, Hamilton, Bergeron, Marchand, Lucic?
You get smacked around and embarrassed.
Shero/Bylsma aren't building a team to win cups. They are building a team to win games in November and December.
I honestly hope its a first round exit, and pressure is put on Shero to can Bylsma. I just hope they bring in a big name, and not promote from within... I'm sure Bylsma will still have his deer in the headlights post game.